by Celia Rees
In the year 1794 rich and beautiful Sovay has no real concerns until her betrothed betrays her with a chambermaid. Taking the matter into her own hands, she dresses in men’s clothes, stops James’ coach, and orders him to “Stand and deliver!” Enjoying the excitement, Sovay continues her daring robberies—not for the money, but the power over men. Taking a step too far, Sovay robs Sir Royston, one of England’s most influential men. Before she knows it she is thrown into tangled plots that involve both England and France, her family and her enemies, the weak and the powerful.
Having loved Pirates!, devoured Witch Child, and liked Sorceress, I expected to really enjoy Sovay, but regrettably it did not live up to my hopes.
First of all, I’m not sure why Ms. Rees based the story or character off the Sovay in the folksong, as with the exception of the very start, Sovay’s story had nothing to do with daring hold-ups and escapes as the summary and first chapters seemed to promise.
Along with the disjointed plot segments, the character development was not at all realistic; Sovay jumped suddenly from innocent girl into the role of legendary highwayman, then back to a lady, then to determined young woman. It was as if the author couldn’t decide to write a romanticized story of a highwayman’s life, or a gritty and realistic description of la Terreur.
The last quarter or so of the novel, after it had smoothed out to the terrors of the Revolution, was my favorite, but it didn’t quite make up for the rest of the book.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
by Celia Rees